The one that got away

By Rev. Adam McKinney on August 20, 2009

Brad Oberhofer is one of the ones that got away. Having found success at Tacoma School of the Arts, Oberhofer fulfilled the promise that all art students make to themselves: he left. Having studied music for most of his lucid life, he finally got out of dodge, heading for New York of all places. Listening to his music, it was the first time in a long time that I was really surprised by a local band. Though he only records by himself, all his songs have a huge sound befitting that of a full band.

It’s the kind of bombastic indie music that somehow always strikes a chord with me. Although, Oberhofer didn’t start out creating this kind of music — he started with rap.

“When I started in seventh grade…I started free-style rapping,” says Oberhofer. “I actually knocked a kid out one time because he broke my Ginuwine CD.”

It’s becoming clearer and clearer to me that there are no borders in music. To listen to Oberhofer’s driving, orchestral indie rock would not immediately suggest an upbringing in rap battles. But so goes music. Brains are sponges, I’ve found, and they are free to soak up and mix about whatever they wish.

Playing live, Oberhofer pulls together whatever musicians he can, depending on what side of the country he’s on. While he’s visiting home, he’ll play a show at The Den. It’ll be a guitar-and-drum affair. On other occasions, he’s performed with a real band, featuring strings and such.

But no matter how full the band, the sound is much the same. It’s all about conveying a giant sound, jamming it into your ear canal and into your brain and from there it shivers down your spinal column. The feeling may be likened to that of an electric shock, but without the messy death part.

[The Den @ urbanXchange, with Hunting Hat, Bluebird, Cozy Kitchen, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m., all ages, $3-$4,1932 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.572.2280]